I’m not ready


Here’s a perfect imprint of Zelda’s hoof. At least this one has come out; Freedom is standing on snowballs and as soon as I pry them out, another one starts to form.

Winter arrived in the Northeast this week — just in time to ensnare drivers heading off for Thanksgiving. We only got a couple of inches, but I’m just not ready.

I’m not ready for the snow causing the electric tape to sag. I’m not ready for the horses to have wet blankets. I’m not ready with a barn full of hay — it’s hard to get hay to the lower barn when there’s snow on the ground and it’s already getting difficult to find a reliable supply. I’m not ready for overnight temperatures to approach the single digits. And I’m not ready for winter riding.

I love riding in the snow. It can be so exhilarating. But not when your horse doesn’t have properly prepared feet. My horses are still wearing regular shoes. No snow rims, no borium. My plan is to pull their shoes early next week. A barefoot hoof offers good traction and no issue with snowballing. But for now, the are walking on snowshoes (Freedom was perched on some snow stilts today) and neither they or I can enjoy the snow.

Lost Shoe, Found

Lost shoe

Freedom’s shoe was picked up by a very helpful team who turned it in to the organizers. It is now safely back on his hoof.

If you have ever tried to wrestle a bent or twisted shoe off your horse, you will share my amazement at how easily they can come off when your horse over steps and catches a front shoe with a hind hoof.

It’s nearly impossible to dislodge a shoe when you want to; when you don’t? They come off like butter.

Freedom lost his left front shoe at the hunter pace on Sunday. Front shoes are particularly problematic to lose because a horse carries about 60% of its weight on its front legs. Too much time/use without the shoe can leave that hoof damaged, sometimes to the point of lameness.

The trick to having a shoe replaced without much fuss is to find the lost one. Otherwise, your farrier needs to shape a new shoe before it can be re-applied. Tacking on the old one? 10 minutes. Starting from scratch? Half an hour or so.

So you can imagine how pleased I was when another team found Freedom’s shoe and turned it in to the organizers. On Monday I picked it up and by Tuesday afternoon it was safely back on Freedom’s hoof!


Don’t drink the goldfish!


Apparently goldfish flavored water is quite delicious. Or maybe it’s the squirming fish at the bottom of the bucket?

This morning the forecast was rain . . . and I found a dead mouse floating in the water tank. These were both signs from above that I should drain and clean the tank since the water collecting from the drain pipes would fill it without any effort on my part.

I carefully removed the existing water and put our goldfish (aka the eaters of mosquito larvae) into a bucket full of water. I stored the bucket in the middle of the tank where they would be safe.

I left Curly and Zelda out in the field with an entirely full tank of water in back of the barn.

A few hours later I returned to fill the tank manually since there had been no rain. I discovered the goldfish in a bucket that had been almost completely drained of water. No, those silly horses didn’t drink from the clean, full tank in the back of the barn; instead they had sipped away at the goldfish bucket until those poor fish had only just enough water to stay afloat. Thank goodness the horses hadn’t tipped over the bucket. Nope, they had delicately sipped from it until the water was almost gone.

Imagine how those fish felt as the water slurped around them!

Note to self: if I take Zelda off property and need her to drink, I should bring some goldfish along to add to the water. It will make her feel right at home!


New thoughts on treatment for Navicular

Screen Shot 2014-09-01 at 3.45.57 PMHere’s an interesting article from Dr. David Ramey on the use of Isoxsuprine as a a treatment for navicular disease, or really as a treatment for anything. I haven’t personally given it to any of my horses, but it definitely was part of the protocol for treating a pony in our barn that foundered.

I suspect there are many treatments that we still use for our horses (and ourselves) that have no scientific basis for working, but which we continue to do because after giving them in the past, our horse seemed better. Even if the drug has nothing to do with it.

Cold hosing a wound

Cold hosing a wound

Cold hosing is a great way to clean a wound, reduce inflammation and reduce pain. The proper way to cold hose is to direct a light flow of water above the wound.

Last week I returned from a ride, looked over at Charlie standing in the field, and realized that he had an injury. The kind of injury that looks like it needs stitches.  A quick iPhone photo sent to the vet confirmed it. As the she said, if the cut looks like it will talk to you, it should be stitched up.

While waiting for the vet to arrive, she wanted it to be cold hosed. Hydrotherapy is good for several reasons: it helps clean the wound, it reduces swelling and it can reduce pain. Charlie didn’t seem to be in any pain, which was good. He seemed quite content to stand still on the hot, humid day and let cold water run down his leg.

We’re not sure how Charlie got hurt. The horses were all out together in the morning and I heard that there was a bit of posturing and kicking at each other. I guess that Charlie interrupted Zelda and Curly during their mutual grooming session. I just hope it wasn’t Zelda who did it.

Charlie got three stitches

Charlie got three stitches. The area is silver because it was sprayed with Alu-Spray to protect it.

The vet came about half an hour later and put in three stitches. Charlie should be just fine. A few days of light riding and he will be good as new. In the meantime, to keep the wound clean and fly-free, it gets a coating a Alu-Spray (one of my favorite products)




Staying Cool

Freedom's shower

Freedom enjoys cooling off under the hose. Willow won’t let me spray her.

We’ve had some hot, steamy weather here. Freedom stays cool by refusing to come out of the barn. He lives in a bank barn and it’s always cooler there. This is the time of year when I go through shavings by the bag full! He does enjoy getting hosed off, but even then will only stand outside for a few minutes. I suspect that he and Willow come out at night when the temperatures have been more manageable.


My dog, Woolly, has taken to lying down in the puddles while I ride.

My dog has discovered the joys of puddles. I often find him lying down in one (if it’s available) while he watches me do barn chores or ride in the field.


And I’ve seen several deer in the cool shade of the trees. This one didn’t even blink when I rode up to her. She lay there for the twenty minutes or so that I rode in the

Shady Deer

This doe watched me ride from the comfort of the shade.

field. I don’t know if she thought I couldn’t see her, or if she is so used the horses that she didn’t care.

Yesterday I spooked a doe and a very young fawn when I was riding home. The fawn bolted into the field with Willow and Freedom. It was tiny and spotted — only a few days old at most. The horses looked bemused and then it scampered off into the woods.

Zelda rolling

Zelda really enjoys her roll after she works!

About ten minutes later, while Zelda was luxuriating in her after-ride roll, I saw the doe come into the meadow, sniffing the ground and obviously looking for her baby. I panicked for a moment hoping that I hadn’t scared it too far off, but suddenly it burst from the woods all happy and excited to see its mother again.

Aromatherapy for horses


Aromatherapy can be beneficial to your horse. Watch your horse’s nostrils when you offer him a scent.

My daughter and I make our own natural skin care and hair care products — we started because she didn’t want to keep putting chemicals on her skin. We started buying products at Lush, but the high prices made going natural painful (and the products didn’t always work so well for us) so I found a few recipes that work well for us. Our favorite home product is a Shea butter hair conditioner. It works better than any we’ve ever bought and it very simple to use (if you’re interested, I found the recipe here).

I had made a batch for my farrier, who came today, and scented it with Jasmine and Sweet Orange essential oils. When I gave it to her, I took the top off of it so she could smell the scent and discovered that Freedom loved it! First he sniffed it with each nostril, then, when I’d put some on my hand, he started to lick it (luckily it’s made from all natural products!).

I’ve read about using essential oils with horses —  some people use them as part of massage therapy, some report that horses find certain scents to be calming, or they use them to treat skin irritations or wounds. I didn’t expect Freedom to have such a strong, positive reaction to the scents that I’d used and it makes me wonder if it would work in a base of jojoba or almond oil as a massage aid.

Essential oils that are commonly used with horses include:  chamomile for anxiety; lavender for stress, sore muscles or to relieve nervous tension; jasmine to lift mood and as an anti-spasmodic; orange for uplifting the spirit, calming and easing sore muscles;, peppermint for concentration and as a natural digestive aid; frankincense to stimulate the immune system and treat wounds.

From what I’ve read, not all scents appeal to all horses so it’s best to let a horse show you which essential oils they prefer.

  • Start by putting a couple of drops of the scent on your hand and offering it to your horse. If they are interested they will seek out the scent, nuzzle your hand and may even give a flehman response.
  • Remember that essential oils can be highly concentrated so will smell especially strong to your horse. The blend that Freedom liked so much was part of a hair conditioner, so the oils had been diluted. When applying them directly to your horse’s skin, you should dilute essential oils in a carrier like coconut oil, jojoba oil, aloe vera gel, etc.
  • Use essential oils, not perfume oils as the latter can contain a lot of solvents. I bought my essential oils mostly at Whole Foods so I can sniff them before I buy, but I also order them from Amazon.
  • If the oil is safe to be ingested, and the horse is so inclined, you can let them lick the oil(s) from your hand.
  • You can apply the oil to their forehead — the spot in between their eyes, under their forelock is called Yin Tang and it is an acupuncture calming spot. It can also be helpful to apply to the horse’s crest or at its poll.

When you offer a scent to your horse, watch how he reacts. According to “How to offer essential oils to your horse“:

When offering aromatically watch to see which nostril the horse inhales with first this is a key to your horses emotions. Your horse may move one nostril over the bottle, then the other.

The horse’s right nostril is controlled by the left hand side of the brain – which governs the horses functions, the way it does ‘stuff’.

The left hand nostril is governed by the right hand side of the brain – which is the intuitive, creative side.  Much like in people.

Please keep in mind that while horses and dogs respond well to aromatherapy, some essential oils are toxic to cats.